Tuesday, August 21, 2007

From YA to Adult

I just finished the newest Ann Brashares novel, The Last Summer (of You & Me), and it left me kind feeling strange. I can't decide if I enjoyed the book or not, which is especially strange for someone as vocal about books as myself. I absolutely love Brashares Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, and this one just felt too different somehow. Too different from her writing style I mean. It played back and forth from intense, serious book to playful, beach read and I'm just feeling a bit stuck in the middle.

Riley and Alice are sisters and have been friends with Paul for almost their entire lives. The three grow up as playmates each summer on Fire Island, where they live on the beach and are the only best friends each other ever knows. The book begins in the summer when the girls are in their mid-twenties and Paul has stayed away from the beach for the last three years. He arrives back on Fire Island distant, though the same Paul. He and Alice, always having a somewhat different bond than he and Riley, begin a relationship, but hide it from Riley in an attempt to not make her feel as if things have changed between the three of them. When Alice finds out that Riley is very ill, she distances herself from Paul, never including him in the news.

By the end of the story, changes have been made in the threesome, most irreparable. They can never again have their Fire Island innocence, except in their memories. This novel is about incredible bonds, both sisterly and friendships, but it is also about the heartache of loss, both emotional and physical. My mind almost hurt after reading this book, because there was no happiness at all. Even in the loving descriptions of the beach and of the Fire Island atmosphere, there was always a lingering sadness in the tone. As you all know, I like my books tragic, but this was almost mournful. The writing and characterization were both beautiful, so you seem my dilemma in stating whether or not I liked this book. I did, but I didn't, let's leave it at t


AshleyR said...

I blagged on you!

I can see my post @http://godslightuponme.blogspot.com/2007/08/somebody-blagged-on-me.html

heather said...

Interesting. It can be tough to enjoy a book that's unrelentingly dark like that. I wonder if something in the author's life spurred her to write something so mournful, given the intensity of the emotion.

Marg said...

I thought that there was a glimmer of hope in the ending. I haven't written my review up yet, but will be doing so soon. I thought it was interesting that this was marketed as an adult book when in reality the characters were only a couple of years older than those in the Sisterhood books anyway!

Susan said...

Interesting. I've been wondering how Brasheres would do with an adult novel.